Nick Fredman

The campaign against Melbourne's East West Tunnel received a boost when about 1500 residents and members of community groups rallied in Brunswick on March 30. The rally sent a strong message to the Denis Napthine government that the project should be scrapped and the money be spent on expanding Melbourne’s public transport system. The rally was organised by Moreland Community Against the East West Tunnel (MCAT), a grassroots community organisation supported by the council.
As part of savage budget cuts, the Victorian Coalition government has slashed $300 million over four years of funding for the provider of public technical and further education, the state’s 18 TAFE institutes that teach about 400,000 students a year. Funding per student in 80% of courses has been cut from about $8 per training hour to as low as $1.50 - to a range meant to reflect labour market priorities. Trades apprenticeships, aged care and child care received some small increases.
Thirty supporters of maternity care choice staged a sit-in inside the Lismore office of local federal MP Janelle Saffin on November 9. They said the federal government must end plans to require independent midwives to have indemnity insurance.
As the economic recession deepens across the globe, the spectres of economic regulation and nationalism, seemingly slain by the prophets of globalisation and free trade, have risen again.
The recent infant milk formula scandal in China, in which at least four babies have died and over 50,000 have become sick due to poisoning with the industrial chemical melamine, highlights the way capitalism cannot guarantee the health and well being of people — particularly the most vulnerable.
As employers continue to push individual Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), some union leaders have urged the labour movement to press the new Labor government of PM Kevin Rudd to move more quickly and decisively against the former government’s Work Choices policy.
It seems the Howard government’s relentless attempts to blast opposition leader Kevin Rudd for meetings last year with disgraced former WA Labor premier and current “political lobbyist” Brian Burke have missed their target, or even backfired. A poll, published in the March 12 Sydney Morning Herald, showed Labor’s potential vote and approval for Rudd continuing to climb, with support for the Coalition and PM John Howard’s ratings declining further.
“I look on the blacks as a set of monkeys, and I think the earlier they are exterminated the better.” So said a juror during the 1838 Sydney trial of settlers accused of the Myall Creek massacre of 28 Aborigines.
Nationalism is a central component of the ideological glue that holds capitalist society together, and just about all capitalist governments are happy to beat a nationalist drum. However the Howard government has been particularly noted for its efforts in this regard, not least in its championing of “Australian values”. They’ve been flogging the term for a decade but in recent months there’s been a bit of a “values” frenzy, with the added spectacle of Labor making an ill-conceived attempt to compete in the “values” stakes.


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